Bedford Mills, as the name suggests, was a small milling hamlet, located in eastern Ontario. Benjamin Tett, a prominent local businessman, built the lumber mill around 1832. Following that, he added a grist mill in the 1840s.
By the 1840s, a small town had grown up around the mills. The budding village included a company store, boarding house and a few homes. Workers held accounts at Tett’s company store. The accounts seem to have been a requirement for the workers and purchasing elsewhere was not acceptable. The company subsequently deducted the cost of their purchases from their earnings. Although this seems undeniably unfair, it was the practice of the times. Tett replaced the older mill with a much larger one in 1848.
By the 1870s, Bedford Mills was booming. In addition to Tett’s mills, other enterprises including a second flour mill, a shingle manufacturer and a cheese factory. Nonetheless, there were very few commercial services, other than a restaurant and boarding house. However by then the community included a school and an Orange Hall. An Anglican Church followed in 1907.
By the late 19th century, access to a nearby railway was tantamount to any community’s success. The railways bypassed many prosperous little mill communities like Bedford Mills which amounted to a death knell. Furthermore, the farmlands were poor and by then by then the forests were becoming depleted. The mills finally shut down in 1916.
Bedford Mills remained popular with cottagers and regularly bounced back to life every summer. Today a few people continue to live in the area on a year round basis. Many of the older buildings are in beautiful condition. Those include the mill and power house, both renovated and the church, beautifully preserved. Learn more